Mary in the House of Caiphas
The Blessed Virgin was ever united to her Divine Son by interior spiritual communications; she was, therefore, fully aware of all that happened to him—she suffered with him, and joined in his continual prayer for his murderers. But her maternal feelings prompted her to supplicate Almighty God most ardently not to suffer the crime to be completed, and to save her Son from such dreadful torments. She eagerly desired to return to him; and when John, who had left the tribunal at the moment the frightful cry, ‘He is guilty of death,’ was raised, came to the house of Lazarus to see after her, and to relate the particulars of the dreadful scene he had just witnessed, she, as also Magdalen and some of the other holy women, begged to be taken to the place where Jesus was suffering. John, who had only left our Saviour in order to console her whom he loved best next to his Divine Master, instantly acceded to their request, and conducted them through the streets, which were lighted up by the moon alone, and crowded with persons hastening to their homes. The holy women were closely veiled; but the sobs which they could not restrain made many who passed by observe them, and their feelings were harrowed by the abusive epithets they overheard bestowed upon Jesus by those who were conversing on the subject of his arrest. The Blessed Virgin, who ever beheld in spirit the opprobrious treatment which her dear Son was receiving, continued ‘to lay up all these things in her heart;’ like him she suffered in silence; but more than once she became totally unconscious. Some disciples of Jesus, who were returning from the hall of Caiphas, saw her fainting in the arms of the holy women, and, touched with pity, stopped to look at her compassionately, and saluted her in these words: ‘Hail! unhappy Mother—hail, Mother of the Most Holy One of Israel, the most afflicted of all mothers!’ Mary raised her head, thanked them gratefully, and continued her sad journey.
When in the vicinity of Caiphas’s house, their grief was renewed by the sight of a group of men who were busily occupied under a tent, making the cross ready for our Lord’s crucifixion. The enemies of Jesus had given orders that the cross should be prepared directly after his arrest, that they might without delay execute the sentence which they hoped to persuade Pilate to pass on him. The Romans had already prepared the crosses of the two thieves, and the workmen who were making that of Jesus were much annoyed at being obliged to labour at it during the night; they did not attempt to conceal their anger at this, and uttered the most frightful oaths and curses, which pierced the heart of the tender Mother of Jesus through and through; but she prayed for these blind creatures who thus unknowingly blasphemed the Saviour who was about to die for their salvation, and prepared the cross for his cruel execution.
Mary, John, and the holy women traversed the outer court attached to Caiphas’s house. They stopped under the archway of a door which opened into the inner court. Mary’s heart was with her Divine Son, and she desired most ardently to see this door opened, that she might again have a chance of beholding him, for she knew that it alone separated her from the prison where he was confined. The door was at length opened, and Peter rushed out, his face covered with his mantle, wringing his hands, and weeping bitterly. By the light of the torches he soon recognised John and the Blessed Virgin, but the sight of them only renewed those dreadful feelings of remorse which the look of Jesus had awakened in his breast. Mary approached him instantly, and said, ‘Simon, tell me, I entreat you, what is become of Jesus, my Son !’ These words pierced his very heart; he could not even look at her, but turned away, and again wrung his hands. Mary drew close to him, and said in a voice trembling with emotion: ‘Simon, son of John, why dost thou not answer me?’—’Mother!’ exclaimed Peter, in a dejected tone, ‘0, Mother, speak not to me—thy Son is suffering more than words can express: speak not to me! They have condemned him to death, and I have denied him three times.’ John came up to ask a few more questions, but Peter ran out of the court as if beside himself, and did not stop for a single moment until he reached the cave at Mount Olivet—that cave on the stones of which the impression of the hands of our Saviour had been miraculously left. I believe it is the cave in which Adam took refuge to weep after his fall.
The Blessed Virgin was inexpressibly grieved at hearing of the fresh pang inflicted on the loving heart of her Divine Son, the pang of hearing himself denied by that disciple who had first acknowledged him as the Son of the Living God; she was unable to support herself, and fell down on the door-stone, upon which the impression of her feet and hands remains to the present day. I have seen the stones, which are preserved somewhere, but I cannot at this moment remember where. The door was not again shut, for the crowd was dispersing, and when the Blessed Virgin came to herself, she begged to be taken to some place as near as possible to her Divine Son. John, therefore, led her and the holy women to the front of the prison where Jesus was confined. Mary was with Jesus in spirit, and Jesus was with her; but this loving Mother wished to hear with her own cars the voice of her Divine Son. She listened and heard not only his moans, but also the abusive language of those around him. It was impossible for the holy women to remain in the court any longer without attracting attention. The grief of Magdalen was so violent that she was unable to conceal it; and although the Blessed Virgin, by a special grace from Almighty God, maintained a calm and dignified exterior in the midst of her sufferings, yet even she was recognised, and overheard harsh words, such as these: ‘Is not that the Mother of the Galilean? Her Son will most certainly be executed, but not before the festival, unless, indeed, he is the greatest of criminals.’
The Blessed Virgin left the court, and went up to the fireplace in the vestibule, where a certain number of persons were still standing. When she reached the spot where Jesus had said that he was the Son of God, and the wicked Jews cried out, ‘He is guilty of death,’ she again fainted, and John and the holy women carried her away, in appearance more like a corpse than a living person. The bystanders said not a word; they seemed struck with astonishment, and silence, such as might have been produced in hell by the passage of a celestial being, reigned in that vestibule.
The holy women again passed the place where the cross was being prepared; the workmen appeared to find as much difficulty in completing it as the judges had found in pronouncing sentence, and were obliged to fetch fresh wood every moment, for some bits would not fit, and others split; this continued until the different species of wood were placed in the cross according to the intentions of Divine Providence. I saw angels who obliged these men to recommence their work, and who would not let them rest, until all was accomplished in a proper manner; but my remembrance of this vision is indistinct.